Baylor Senior Wins Highly Competitive National Science Foundation Fellowship

April 16, 2009
Juan Yaquian

Baylor senior Juan Yaquian has been awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.

Baylor University senior Juan Yaquian, a senior electrical and computer engineering major from Temple, Texas, has been awarded a highly competitive Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation to pursue graduate work at the University of California-Berkeley.

As a graduate student, Yaquian will work towards his doctorate studying high frequency analog circuitry with applications towards wireless communication. The fellowship will provide him a $30,000 annual stipend for three years and other funds to pay for the cost of the education and travel.

"When I finally came to the realization that I had won and it was not a dream, the first thing I said was 'Thank you Jesus'," Yaquian said. "The fellowship allows me to join a research center or group that is pursuing the work that most interests me as opposed to one that has more funding."

Yaquian said the fellowship also gives him the ability to address problems in the technological community more strategically because he will not have financial worries. Furthermore, he said it provides him access to cyber-infrastructure resources available specifically for NSF fellows.

The purpose of the NSF scholarship is to ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science, mathematics and engineering in the United States and to reinforce its diversity. The fellowship offers recognition and three years of support for advanced study to 900 outstanding graduate students nationwide in the mathematical, physical, biological, engineering, and behavioral and social sciences. The Graduate Research Fellowship is the only program of direct student support offered by the NSF.

In 2007, Yaquian participated in the Summer Undergraduate Program in Engineering Research at Berkeley (SUPERB), a program at the University of California-Berkeley that offers a group of talented undergraduate engineering students - who have been historically underrepresented in the field - the opportunity to gain research experience. This past summer, he gained additional research experience as an intern at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Already Yaquian has traveled to Honduras with Baylor's Engineers with a Mission, a Christian organization for engineering students who feel called to serve developing communities with their technical skills. While on the mission-oriented trip, Yaquian helped engineers install a micro-hydro electric generator for a small village, providing electricity for the first time.

Beyond Baylor, Yaquian's ultimate - and lofty - engineering goal is to develop technology to benefit society as whole. Already he sees himself pursuing research that eventually will improve the ability of microwave imaging - a safer alternative to current imaging modalities - to detect cancerous tumors.